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Community must have say on how £20m is invested

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Dumfries and West
Community must have say on how £20m is invested

THE community of Dumfries must have a say in how a huge £20m government windfall is invested in the town, it was argued this week.

A new town board is being set up to co-ordinate and plan the spending of this huge levelling-up funding that Dumfries will receive from the UK government over the next ten years.

Councillors, MPs, and MSPs will all work together to find the right person to chair the new town board, however Nithsdale area committee and the wider community will help influence which other members make up the board. This was agreed at Dumfries and Galloway Council’s economy and resources committee on Tuesday where several councillors stressed that the community should have a say in such a big project.

North West Dumfries Councillor Andy Ferguson said: “This is probably the most important decision for Dumfries in recent living memory.

“The public should be involved in the process right at the very start.

“There is no reason why this cannot go to the (Nithsdale) area committee to get local input.”

Council leader Gail Macgregor said: “I’ve been lobbied by every community and interest group in Dumfries in recent months.

“I think there has to be a pragmatism that not everybody will be able to sit at the table, and it will be for the board chair to put together a board that’s going to be representative of the town and take forward the projects.”

The UK Government has promised the huge financial injection, but the money will only be released after the town board is set up and firm plans are in place for splashing the cash in Dumfries.

It has also been revealed that the money should be spent on themes including safety and security and heritage and regeneration.

The UK government has set a deadline of April 1 for the town board members to have been assembled and the body’s first meeting to have been held.

The long-term plan for Dumfries should then be submitted to the UK Government by August 1. Once approved, the initial investment funds will then be released to the council.

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